Oct 1 2011

Team We

Even when I have been the sole developer in a class, interface, module, library, or feature I try to always report progress as “We.” For defects and issues it’s always easy to point out the fault and personalize the problem when it was caused by someone else. Avoid naming names or singling out an individual. Saying “Your broke this” doesn’t make you look better or solve the issue. Restate it as “This was broken by this change list you committed on this date while trying to resolve this other issue.” Don’t personalize blame or fault, and provide as much information as you can gather to better solve the issue. Don’t stop when you find something is broken, or when you find who broke it, find out why it was broken in the first place, and if at all possible suggest viable solutions.

A few days ago, a engineer called me over for some help. He immediately started making using accusatory language as if I had committed some crime. “There is a bug and you wrote this so you did it and you didn’t do it well because there is a bug.” He was pointing to 20 lines of code that I had written over a year ago in a much larger feature whose requirements had changed over time and because of his tone and desperation in his voice I could tell he was lost just dropped the anchor of blame wherever he could. I tried to get focus to the task at hand an not my code and asked a series of questions, what does the system do now? What should the system do? Does this always happen? What is unique when there is an error? Using this approach we found the issue in 10 minutes without staring down the code or focusing who wrote what method.

Apr 23 2010

PHP Creator is a Terrible Coder

Rasmus Lerdorf, the Danish creator of the PHP programming language, recently tweeted the following bit of hubris.

For all the folks getting excited about my quotes. Here is another – Yes, I am a terrible coder, but I am probably still better than you :)

That sounds like something that DHH would say, who also happens to be a Danish programmer. In one hand he did invent a new programming language, in the other it was PHP. In one hand he made web programming accessible to thousands of developer, in the other hand the code produced by most of these developers is unreadable and unmanageable.

Of course, a great many folks took the troll bait and commented on the validity of the tweet. My favorite comment was from
Entropy on Reddit.

Kenny G plays the saxophone better than I do, but that provides little solace for his countless victims.

I was not able to find additional background to this tweet, but I can only imagine he tweeted it in good fun, and not in my milkshake brings all the developers to the yard, and their like, it’s better than yours.